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captioned by the national captioning institute gwen: the disaster in haiti. the challenges of the past, the present, and the future. plus, populist politics at the white house and maybe in massachusetts, too. tonight on "washington week." >> to the people of haiti we say clearly and with conviction you will not be foresaken, you will not be forgotten. in this, your greatest need, america stands with you. gwen: a terrible earthquake. >> this is a major catastrophe for haiti. gwen: a devastating death toll. >> we need more people down here! gwen: uncertainty everywhere. >> the most urgent thing we can do now is get them through the next week to 10 days.
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we have to find the living and the dead and we have to take care of both. gwen: can haiti, plagued by decades of deprivation, survive? in washington, the president talks tough to bankers paying themselves big bonuses. >> we want our money back and we're going to get it. gwen: but will taxpayers still pay in the end? and in massachusetts, a potential political upset that could undo ted kennedy's legacy. covering the week, helene cooper of "the new york times," doyle mcmanus of "the los angeles times," deborah solomon of "the wall street journal," and dan balz of "the washington post." plus, a special report from abc's martha raddatz on the ground in haiti. >> celebrating 40 years of journalistic excellence. live from our nation's capital,
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this is "washington week with gwen ifill" produced in association with "national journal." corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- ♪ >> the johns hopkins global m.b.a., integrating business expertise with international understanding, to develop leaders for a better world. the johns hopkins carey business school where business is taught with humanity in mind. >> additional corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by exxonmobil, the
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annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> once again, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening. one of our regulars, martha raddatz of abc news is on the ground in haiti. we spoke to her by phone a few minutes ago about the views she got from the air today of the devastation. >> we flew into port-au-prince this morning and it was a helicopter ride so you could completely see the destruction here and why the death toll is so great. there were buildings pancaked down that were mountain sized and later as we drove through town the devastation got worse and worse. we've all seen video of this but i cannot express how devastating it is here. these buildings pancaked and to
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know that there are bodies inside. there was a mass ox oddous. there's nowhere to go. we are getting into the airport where we are, there is total chaos. the 82nd airborne is here but they were out in front of the airport trying to keep people back. people truly were frantic to get out of this country. the aid distribution, i'm at the airport right now, we watched all day the aid coming in, massive amounts of aid, food, water, all sorts of supplies and the large distribution has not taken place yet. there are protocols. the haitian government has to decide where the distribution is going to be. the world food program tries to come up with a plan. and then the u.n. peacekeepers here and the u.s. military try to provide security to deliver that aid. they'll perhaps deliver it to a soccer field.
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they can't just drop the aid in and let people looking for food and water and that's why it's taking so long and how they explained it's taking so long. it's largely a matter of security. they have to make sure the area where they distribute the food is secure so people aren't injured when they're trying to get the food and water, so they say it will probably take place tomorrow. >> -- gwen: a tragedy of epic proportions forces us to ask questions big and small about why bad things happen, about who lives and who dies, and about what the rest of us do when calamity occurs. in an attempt to get at that last one, the eyes of the world turn to the united states where president obama spoke again today. >> the entire world stands with the government and the people of haiti, for in haiti's devastation we all see the common humanity that we share. gwen: so what is the scope of
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the u.s. public and private response so far? helene? >> well, this has been -- the scale of this disaster has been so huge and right on america's doorstep that for the obama administration, their response had to be huge. i mean, when you're talking about 50,000, 100,000 people killed, no matter where this had happened in the world, the united states would have responded. but when you're talking about somewhere that's right on our doorstep, the response had to be huge. i think for president obama, this is the first full-scale catastrophe, humanitarian type disaster of his presidency. he was determined from the start that he was going to be, you know, right up on top of it, within 30 minutes of him being informed on tuesday about the earthquake, he already had convened his national security aides, he was sending out statements, and they started very early on, you know, pledging the $100 million and sending the rampup of military,
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of marines and soldiers. now we're talking about 10,000 american troops are going to be on the ground in haiti by monday secretary gates says. gwen: now we're hearing secretary clinton and the head of usaid are on their way there tomorrow. >> hillary clinton will be arriving in port-au-prince. she's only going to stay a day and probably won't leave the airport. you won't see too many big name type people going into haiti right now because the infrastructure just can't really handle it. president obama sent dennis mcdonough, one of his national security aides and i was emailing with him today, and he says that the communications are very hard right now in haiti and you don't want to see a lot of big names. but getting in, it has been said today they think they can get about $48 million worth of food assistance at this point for haiti. but right now they're still focusing on search and rescue teams because they haven't given up yet and it hasn't moved to a recovery type of operation yet.
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so the next few days are going to be critical. >> helene, there have been plenty of natural disasters over the last few years where the united states has taken some kind of leadership role. i'm thinking of hurricanes in central america or the tsunami in asia, how does that compare in scale to those? >> i think it's bigger but i think it would have been bigger no matter who was president because this is such a huge disaster. i mean, you're talking about a really, really poor country that was in such horrible shape to begin with. and when you see tens of thousands of people dead right next door to the united states, i don't think, you know, if bush were president, you'd be seeing a similar type of rampup, but with obama, he's been particularly aggressive about that, part of that is because of hurricane katrina and what happened with bush and how the bush administration got slammed africa trampolinea. the bush administration even got slammed after the asian tsunami saying our response at first was too weak and president bush ramped up the
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american aid to $350 million soon after that when he was criticized. but i think when you look at the scope of the disaster, the response by the obama administration has been very aggressive. >> you think what we're going to see in haiti and the u.s. what types of reliefs we'll see and what moves we'll see once we do move to recovery stage. >> i think you'll see a lot more of this on tv, you're going to see the administration continuing to go out on this. president bush, former president bush, and clinton will be at the white house tomorrow with obama to talk about how they -- one of the things the white house is looking at doing is try to get those two men to really ramp up the american private relief effort and encourage more americans to donate. apparently text messaging system that at&t set up has come up with $10 million already from people just texting haiti on their phones. i think you'll be seeing a lot more of that. >> probably what people expected in a moment like this
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is the sense of reassurance a president can offer. how does president obama as comfortor and chief compare with president bush or president clinton or his predecessors. >> that's been so interesting to watch because president obama, he's known as being very cool. he wasn't that great in fort hood. president bush and president clinton, for example, both after 9/11, after ron brown's plane crash, they're much more -- they seemed at first much more comfortable with giving the big bear hugs and playing that role. president obama, because he is known as being so chilled and cool doesn't immediately step to that role. but i think with this haiti disaster, he really has grown into that. his comments on wednesday night when he -- on wednesday morning when he stepped forward and he said, you know, i want to talk to the haitian people, you've not been forgotten, you will not be foresaken were very, very powerful and he seemed visibly moved by that. i thought it was pretty effective.
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gwen: part of the rest of what makes this arresting and so sad is it seems whenever we hear news of haiti it's all bad with the population of 9 million people, a 1/3 who were reported killed or injured in this earthquake, the country was the poorest in the western hemisphere before this happened. there's quite a history here, isn't there, doyle? >> there is. you can argue haiti in a sense has had a 200-year run of bad luck. when haiti was founded in 1804, when african slaves overthrew their french overseers, the french government responded by imposing economic reparations on the new country, so its economy started out in the hole right at the beginning. for much of the 20th century, haiti was under the worst dictatorships in the world, and that was overthrown and followed by a decade of instability and coups, as you mentioned. u.s. military intervention during the clinton
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administration, and to be quite frank, that was the last time many of us in washington paid close attention to haitian politics. gwen: also how bill clinton first got involved. >> he got involved. but the economy still never took off. most haitians live on less than $2 a day. there have actually been some signs of optimism in the last few years. the current president, rene preval, has gotten quite high marks from other governments and from international aid organizations for trying to reform the government and for the most serious effort at economic development and attracting investment that has ever happened. but that string of bad luck never goes away. and i think it was in 2008 haiti got swept by hurricanes that had an effect, not as large as the earthquake but another setback and then now th
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the lord's work and they ought to be admired and not reviled. have they figured that out yet?
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have they tried to get on the right side of this issue? >> that was the s.c. of goldman sachs and no, this week we saw the heads of the bank come to washington where most people thought maybe they'd apologize for some of the things that had happened but they basically said, you know, this was a storm that happens every once in a while and did not apologize, basically said regulators got it wrong. >> there is one thing i didn't understand, why tax liabilities instead of profit? >> well, the administration looked at taxing profits which most people say hey, these banks are making lots of money, just tax that. they were worried banks would be crafty, as banks tend to be, and either pay their people more so their profits were less or move their profit to some sort of special vehicle so they could shield them. they also thought taxing liabilities would have the secondary benefit of maybe bringing down some of leverage of these financial institutions, the risk taking that got us in the problem in the first place. gwen: why not tax the bonuses which got everybody worked up and there are people in congress who wanted to do that.
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why not do it that way? >> that's a good question. there are some in the house who say we should tax bonuses and that didn't go far enough. the administration thought that's not the right way to do it and you about a basically would be taxing something -- it's a free market and people should pay what they want to pay and taxing bonuses was not the signal they wanted to send. gwen: finally, is there anything to the argument that putting this kind of pressure on banks is going to slow down the economy? >> i mean, i think there is a concern that regulators are telling banks, don't make stupid loans, don't get us into the same situation we were in before, keep their capital ratios high so the banks are saying hey, you're telling me to keep the ratios high and not make bad loans and you're telling me i have to pay you more money, so i'm going to sit and wait and not do anything with the capital at the moment. banks make moan by making loans. >> finally tonight, a good old-fashioned political barnburner is underway in
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massachusetts as democrat martha coakley faces an unexpectedly bigger fight with republican scott brown to succeed the late ted kennedy. today's polls declare the race a tossup and president obama is heading there to campaign this weekend, a sure sign of trouble. at stake for the white house, 60 votes in the senate and perhaps 50 on the president's agenda. what's up with this, dan? >> it's what makes politics so interesting. gwen: absolutely. >> two weeks ago this race was a sleepy contest heading towards a certain outcome which is martha coakley, the democratic nominee, the attorney general, was going to win fairly easily and without working very hard. and suddenly in the last 10 or 12 days, scott brown has roared up and presented the democrats with a huge problem. i mean, you talked about the polls. the polls in this have been all over the lot, actually, for the past couple of weeks. there was a public poll earlier this week that showed coakley up by 15 points. there was another public poll last night that showed brown up
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by four points. most of the people on both sides of this, and you know, everybody is now running tracking polls. there are three democratic tracking polls going and multiple republican tracking polls and all have concluded this is a very, very close race. nobody knows how it will come out. democrats are hoping the wake-up call arrived in time, that they can get the resources into the contest, that they can get martha coakley going and that they will be able to pull it out. but they are very nervous today. gwen: is it she's a bad candidate or he's a good candidate, or are there outside issues? >> i think it's all of the above. he has run a better campaign. he's been more aggressive in his campaign. he got on the air before she did. he has taken the fight to her. and he's done it in a kind of populous grassroots independent kind of way. she's drawn very bad reviews from democrats who have been watching this race closely both in massachusetts and here in d.c. their feeling is she went to sleep over the holidays and she
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has been lackluster as a candidate and that she has not made the case aggressively in her own behalf. gwen: well, ok. >> here's a guy who said to campaign against the health care reform package that's in the hill right now, president obama is working on with the democrats. what happens if he wins? >> that's the big issue. the stakes on this could not be higher, helene. if scott brown wins, the republicans in the senate will have 41 votes. and as we all know and have talked about a hundred times on this program, with 41 votes, they can stop the democrats from doing something. and they will stop the health care bill dead in its tracks. there's been talk of various ways to perhaps delay brown's seating if he were to win, but there's no doubt democrats believe if he wins they're going to have a terrible time getting the health care bill through. >> if he's campaigned on health care, has he turned this into a national score, -- national story, a referendum on obama or
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is this about local issues, all those peculiar things that make boston kind of like new orleans on the charts? >> i like that. he has run a conservative campaign and he has run against health care but he has tried -- he had tried until earlier this week to sort of keep it local. in other words, to be the voice of people in massachusetts who are upset and not to tie himself to the national republicans or to other groups. that's all out the window at this point. every group of 10 bucks and the ability to run an ad is in massachusetts. and he had rudy giuliani in today, she had bill clinton in today, barack obama, the president is coming on sunday. this is now a national race. and as a result of that, if martha coakley loses this race, it will be a hit for president obama, and it will cast a paul over democrats if they start year 2010 in a state of
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nervousness. >> what i can't get over is this is teddy kennedy's seat, the liberal lion. how do we have this happening so close to his death? is massachusetts turning republican or is he just a bad candidate? >> massachusetts is a blue state in presidential years. but don't forget massachusetts over the years has elected a lot of republican governors. gwen: a republican u.s. senator. >> not for a long time. >> they all ran as moderates. scott brown isn't running as a moderate. >> he's running a as a conservative but a grassroots conservative against some of the things that even democrats in massachusetts may be nervous about in terms of what the administration is doing. and as i've said, she's not run an effective campaign. gwen: ok. we'll be watching tuesday and see what happens. thank you, everyone. it's been a long week, if at its end you would like to make a donation for haitian relief, you can text the word "haiti" to 9099 to send $10 to the american red cross. or you can go to our website
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for a link to a list of other approved charities. that's our website at keep up with daily developments on the pbs news hour and we'll see you around the table next week on "washington week." good night. gwen: join the "washington week" conversations online. email your questions for the webcast extra to washingtonweek online at >> "washington week" was produced by weta which is solely responsible for its content. >> corporate funding for washington week is provided by -- >> clearly it's tough times in
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our economy right now. price volatility has put strains on even the strongest of budgets. the economy needs energy to strengthen and grow and continued investment in energy resources over the long term. exxonmobil is investing at record levels. over the next four years we're looking at spending more than $100 billion in new energy related projects. we invest for the long term so we're able to help support growth that we know the economy needs. >> additional funding is provided by boeing. the johns hopkins/carey business school, the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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Washington Week
PBS January 16, 2010 1:30am-2:00am EST

News/Business. (2010) The rescue and recovery efforts following the earthquake in Haiti; proposed plan to tax Wall Street banks. (CC) (Stereo)

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